For years it would seem that attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that was specific to children. When people think of ADHD, often the first image that comes to their head is the little boy who just can’t seem to concentrate on his school work. They imagine this little boy bouncing and squirming, unable to stay still. It’s easy to imagine a child with this type of disruptive behavior because, as they say, kids will be kids. It’s naturally hard for children to stay seated for very long without some difficulty, and concentrating on one thing for very long can seem nearly impossible. These seem to be traits that diminish with time. As the child grows older many would assume that these behaviors would simply go away on their old. While this could very well happen, it isn’t always the case. Adults can have ADHD just as children can. It can be nearly impossible for adults with ADHD to concentrate for long periods of time. Though adults still have more control over themselves than children do (which can make detecting ADHD in an adult challenging at times), they can still struggle with the effects of ADHD. ADHD symptoms in an adult may affect their lives differently than when they were a child. Instead of not being able to concentrate in class, an adult may have a difficult time following through with a commitment. Instead of being disruptive during a lecture like at school, an adult may find that their relationships suffer due to their inattention. However ADHD affects your life, it always comes down to the same thing: managing and treating the disorder is paramount to living a normal life. Given that healthy and effective treatments can sometimes be hard to find, it can be a frustrating ordeal to control adult attention deficit hyperactive disorder. Cannabis could be a natural and effective treatment for ADHD in adults. So what is ADHD? What are other treatment options available? How does cannabis rate in comparison to these treatments?
Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) is sometimes referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD), though this term is no longer used by doctors. ADHD is a condition that is currently referred to as attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), which bundles together those who have ADD. ADHD is a condition that makes its first appearance during childhood. Though you can in some cases outgrow the disorder, oftentimes what happens is that it switching to being an externally noticeable disorder to an internal one. You typically won’t see an adult squirming in their chair or loudly disrupting a classroom lecture, but they may still have difficulties focusing on that lecture. They may also have a hard time completing assignments or committing in a relationship. Oftentimes in cases where an adult is suffering from ADHD, it can present itself in ways that are very hard to detect. Common symptoms of adult ADD/ADHD are:
Other common symptoms that will accompany ADHD can be depression, learning disability or trouble sleeping.
ADHD can be hard to pin down at times (especially in adults) because the symptoms aren’t always the same for every person.
In most cases when a child reaches adulthood, his symptoms become more internal and are harder to detect. The hyperactivity may appear to have vanished. However, within this person’s mind is still the attention difficulties. This is when it may become hard to call them “hyperactive” per say. Back in 1994 doctors began to make the distinction between attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactive disorder much more difficult. At this time, the American Psychiatric Association simply bundled the two together and began calling all cases attention deficit hyperactive disorder, even when hyperactivity wasn’t present. This made ADD an outdated term. For example, an adult may experience a short attention span and racing thoughts, but have no problem with constant movement or fidgeting. This would be ADHD without hyperactivity, but would still be considered ADHD according to proper medical terminology.
Everyone can relate to ADHD symptoms to a degree at some point in their lives. It’s when these symptoms are perpetual and have lasted since childhood that ADHD may be to blame. ADHD symptoms can be traced back to when you were a young child, however, sometimes it may be hard for you to pinpoint these symptoms from your childhood. It may be helpful to ask a parent or other adult from your childhood if ADHD symptoms occurred and when. To further complicate things, ADHD can be mistaken for other conditions such as mood disorders or anxiety because in many cases adults will also have another mental health condition that accompanies ADHD.
There are several causes and risk factors that are attached to ADHD and may make you more vulnerable to developing the condition. Some of these include:
Genetics: Simply having close a family member with ADHD means that your chances of having ADHD increase.
Environment: Adverse environmental factors could make the risk of developing ADHD increase. Exposure to lead or other toxins up the risk of ADHD.
Developmental Problems: Factors such as being born prematurely or having a mother who drank, smoked or used drugs while pregnant can all increase your risk of having ADHD.
There are also a few warning signs to be aware of when considering ADHD. Some of these signs include:
Being unorganized: Adult responsibilities are not always something we all look forward to facing. But when things like holding down a job or getting your bills paid on time start to become problematic because you can’t seem to stay organized it may be ADHD.
Reckless driving: Paying attention to what’s going on around you can be difficult for those with ADHD. This can make driving very difficult, which can lead to excessive speed and accidents.
Marriage issues: Relationships are tough, and marriage can be the toughest of them all, so problems will occur at some point. But if your spouse is constantly accusing you of not listening or consistently not keeping commitments, and you’re confused as to why they are so upset, you may have ADHD.
Unfocused: This is where your work ethic can really take a dive. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by a busy workplace or the constant answering of phones and emails to the point that it affects your work ethic then you may have ADHD.
Trouble relaxing: In children, this could mean they just can’t sit still, but for adults, it’s a little different. They tend to internalize this restlessness and feel more tension.
Procrastination: This delay in starting something could be in the workplace or at home. Those with ADHD will oftentimes let their duties pile up, which can lead to some sticky relationship issues with others.
Difficulty controlling emotions: ADHD isn’t always easy. Sometimes those who are suffering from it feel out of control and that their emotions rule them instead of the other way around. This can lead to a very hot temper and angry outbursts. Many times these outbursts are short-lived and can be over quickly. However, those who have to witness the outbursts may not get over the incident quite as quickly, so keep in mind that your condition may affect those around you as well.
Though these instances can happen in an adult who doesn’t have ADHD, it’s important to note that these things are common with ADHD and may need the attention of a medical doctor. In many cases, these symptoms don’t just affect your ability to focus but will affect your career, mood, and relationships. If you think that you have ADHD and it is increasingly hard to manage, you may need to consider medical treatment.
Many treatment options include taking medications to control your symptoms. Medications such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Strattera are commonly prescribed. In some cases, these medications are not effective and doctors will prescribe stronger medications such as Wellbutrin and Tofranil.
While these medications have shown effectiveness in helping ADHD sufferers stay more alert with less hyperactivity, they come with risks as well. Some of the side effects of these drugs include:
Other treatments for ADHD involves psychotherapy. The most common form used for ADHD is the cognitive-behavioral therapy which helps the person learn how to develop skills to think through their behaviors and change them for the better.
However, another, perhaps more controversial treatment, is coming to light. Cannabis has become more popular in the treatment of ADHD in adults.
It’s a natural reaction for any marijuana users to turn to the plant for a little relaxation. After a hard day, many people look at their joint the same way as some view their glass of wine or beer.
Imagine if you are on edge consistently. Sleep may be a rare luxury due to simply never being able to relax. While prescription drugs such as Adderall do improve your focus, they don’t help you relax. They can also inhibit sleep, making you feel more tired when you’re on them.
Cannabis, however, has a relaxing effect that can help you to fall asleep faster. It can also keep you in a deeper sleep for longer, which can help you feel more rested. However, taking cannabis in moderation is best as a tolerance could be built up against THC which could impair sleep. The effectiveness of cannabis is also very much on a case by case basis. In some people sleep cycles may be disrupted with cannabis, while with others it may be much better.
Another reason cannabis has become an effective choice for treatment for those with ADHD is that it can help to reduce stress which helps you to calm down and focus on the task at hand, whether that be work, school or home related.
People use cannabis to self-treat their ADHD, but is there any research that can back up its effectiveness?
The cannabis plant produces phytocannabinoids, just as our body produces endocannabinoids. When these cannabinoids enter the endocannabinoid system they can affect certain functions such as sleep, stress, mood, cognition, and digestion.
Dr. David Bearman, a physician in favor of cannabis, explains:
“When you don’t have enough cannabinoids, your neurotransmission is too rapid. So, if you have a rapid assault, if you will, on the cerebral cortex, a substantial number of ideas, concepts, sensory input, then it may be difficult for the cerebral cortex to concentrate.
But, if you slow these down, these neuro-impulses down by a few nanoseconds, then you’re going to give the cerebral cortex more of an opportunity to focus and concentrate because you’re going to have neuro-impulses moving more slowly, and you’ll probably have fewer neuro-impulses.”
What this means is that that the brain is simply working too quickly when it doesn’t have enough cannabinoids, which is why focus and normal thought process is such a challenge for those with ADHD. Cannabis can help treat ADHD because it helps to slow down the brain and so that it can process at a healthier pace.
In one study, a man with ADHD was tested to prove the effectiveness of the cannabis as a treatment. Before administering the cannabis the man had a hard time focusing, was socially awkward and was very pushy and demanding. During the study, he was given a synthetic form of THC that is typically used for cancer patients. The results were phenomenal. He was much calmer and pleasant to be around. He was less distracted and was no longer pushy and demanding.
Cannabis, like all treatments, may not be for everyone. However, if you believe that you are suffering from ADHD and are struggling to find relief, cannabis could help. Living with ADHD isn’t easy, but finding the right treatment for you could turn your life around in the best way.
Always check your state’s cannabis laws and consult a physician before using any medicinal cannabis products.